Chocolate Sunday – a bit of decadence

This is my first Chocolate Sunday post in a while. After my blogging hiatus in the summer, I found it hard to get back in gear. I also realized over the ensuing months that I preferred a looser blogging schedule, at least for a while, so that I could post four days a week if I liked, or less often if it suited me.

But I’ve been hoarding ideas, and I’ve got three chocolate-related items on my desk that have been begging to be blogged about – reminders of why I like to blog about chocolate in the first place.

These are real treats. A bit of decadence, even to read about.

hedonist chocolates1. My son brought me some coconut curry bark from Hedonist Artisan Chocolates in Rochester, NY, last year. What a great mix of flavours! And not too much heat. Delicious.

 

 

flagrants desirs2. A few months ago, at a Montreal dépanneur, I discovered French chocolate bars called Flagrants Désirs. The name just hints at the description on the package, which promises “a sensuous gourmet moment in every bite.” Dark Caramel & Sea Salt was especially tempting. But I think it sounds more decadent in French – Caramel et Fleur de Sel.

 

chocoMe3. I was at Toronto’s annual Gourmet Food & Wine Expo in November, and swooned over ChocoMe chocolate, a high-end brand with unusual and quality ingredients. I took home a square of dark chocolate topped with crystallized rose petals and freeze-dried sour cherry pieces, and another with crystallized violet petals, pistachio, and freeze-dried sour cherry pieces.

I’m enjoying them all vicariously just writing about them.

 

 

Sautéed Bananas!

foodI think I have a new favourite cooked fruit dessert. It’s easy to prepare, healthier than a lot of other desserts, plus it’s gluten-free and dairy-free. Not to mention that it tastes good.

Last week, among the six of us at Friday night dinner, there was a new mix of  food restrictions. An interesting challenge for me, because I like trying new recipes, and I like to make food that everyone at my table can eat. My dinners are usually low in gluten and lactose, but this time I also had to avoid alcohol, and there was a possibility that one person would be restricted to soft foods.

sautéed bananasI thought of sautéed bananas right away, but the recipe for Bananas Flambé that I’ve made in the past (from Bonnie Stern’s Simply HeartSmart Cooking) calls for rum.

I felt I was on the right track when I found a YouTube video for Betty’s Luscious Fried Bananas. It looked wonderful, but I wanted to tone down the richness and the sweetness.

I substituted coconut oil for butter, increased the number of bananas, decreased the ratio of sugar to bananas, and added a couple of spices. It still turned out delicious and sweet. There was a small amount left over, and we enjoyed it two days later.

My one caveat – I find there’s a big variation in taste among different coconut oils, so use one you like. When I started to sauté the bananas, I thought the coconut oil might overpower the banana flavour. I decided that if I sprinkled toasted coconut on top, the flavour would seem more intentional. Everyone seemed to like it.

We ate the dessert on its own, but it would also be great as a warm topping for ice cream or plain cake.

Here’s the (non-)recipe. No amounts needed, and you can play with the spicing. It’s quick enough to prepare last-minute.

Frances’ Fried Bananas (inspired by Betty)

unsweetened flaked coconut (optional)

coconut oil (enough to coat the bottom of the pan, plus a little more)

ripe, but not over-ripe, bananas (I used 6)

lemon juice

brown sugar (I used 2 or 3 tablespoons)

cinnamon to taste

nutmeg to taste

sea salt

1. If using flaked coconut, toast in non-stick pan on low heat until coconut starts to turn brown. Set aside.

2. Cut bananas in diagonal slices.

3. Heat coconut oil in large frying pan on medium heat.

4. Add bananas, and sprinkle with a bit of lemon juice, brown sugar, cinnamon,  nutmeg, and a bit of sea salt.

5. Saute, reducing heat, and stirring carefully, until cooked but not too soft.

6. Sprinkle with toasted coconut, if you like.

Enjoy!

 

 

 

 

 

A chance to be the editor…

I love the Toronto Star’s annual You be the Editor survey. And I like reading the follow-up results even better.

It’s an opportunity to make real-life editing decisions with no risk of fallout. It’s a learning opportunity, too.

Here are a few points I found particularly interesting. No, let me rephrase that, because I found the whole column particularly interesting. So I’ll just highlight a few of the questions.

Public editor Kathy English described #10 as “a tough one.” It had to do with a business profile of Heather Reisman. Most readers who completed the survey would have chosen not to publish the cited excerpts, which describe the Indigo CEO’s appearance. I probably would have omitted the reference to her “slim, lithe figure,” but I would have retained the phrase “petite frame belying the power she wields.” I’m always intrigued by contrasts and unexpected impressions – I think they make articles more interesting to read, and may help readers question their own assumptions. In this case, I believe the phrase is relevant to Reisman’s role. English asks a key question: would a male CEO’s appearance be described similarly?

#11 dealt with a column that referred to former mayor Rob Ford and his brother Doug in strong and unflattering language. A resulting complaint to the Ontario Press Council was dismissed. A lot of people that I meet aren’t clear about the difference between a column and an article. Columnists – as I learned in one of the first writing courses I ever took – are “queens” of the business who write their opinions. Journalists don’t “editorialize” in their articles.

“Paddy wagon” (#6) is a term I don’t recall ever using, and I don’t think I’m likely to use it in the future. But finding it in the survey served as a reminder that the phrase might be considered offensive.

More importantly, it’s a reminder that every word counts.

 

 

 

Hello, January

I have a whole bunch of things I could blog about today, but seeing as this is the first full week of 2015, I’m focusing on getting back in writing mode.

Blogging has been my foundation for the past year and a half, providing structure to my week, and putting me in writing mode on a regular basis. But I haven’t been very productive recently. I didn’t blog during my two-week trip to Japan last month, and then I was busy catching up with other things before going into end-of-December holiday mode.

Yesterday, as I was catching up with my emails, I opened the end-of-year summary that WordPress sent to let me know how my blog has been doing.

Considering I took a hiatus from blogging over the summer, and that I didn’t blog much toward the end of the year, I was pleased to see that I had 8,800 hits in 2014. That’s the equivalent – as WordPress put it – of three sold-out performances at the Sydney Opera House, which has almost 2,700 seats in its Concert Hall.

I used to think of myself as one of the “January people” – the ones who join a gym or revamp their diets at the beginning of the year. I think this year I’ll just take one day, and one blog post, at a time.

One of the writing blogs I follow (Live to Write – Write to Live, by the New Hampshire Writers’ Network) had an interesting post this morning about digital filing for writers. I’ll have to digitally file it, or – um – maybe just refer back to this post.

Hello, January! Happy (and healthy) New Year, everyone!